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Title: Advances in Understanding and Managing Catastrophic Ecosystem Shifts in Mediterranean Ecosystems
Authors: Van den Elsen, Erik 
Stringer, Lindsay C. 
De Ita, Cecilia 
Hessel, Rudi 
Kéfi, Sonia 
Schneider, Florian D. 
Bautista, Susana 
Mayor, Angeles G. 
Baudena, Mara 
Rietkerk, Max 
Valdecantos, Alejandro 
Vallejo, Victoriano R. 
Geeson, Nichola 
Brandt, C. Jane 
Fleskens, Luuk 
Hemerik, Lia 
Panagos, Panos 
Valente, Sandra 
Keizer, Jan J. 
Schwilch, Gudrun 
Jucker Riva, Matteo 
Sietz, Diana 
Christoforou, Michalakis 
Hadjimitsis, Diofantos G. 
Papoutsa, Christiana 
Quaranta, Giovanni 
Salvia, Rosanna 
Tsanis, Ioannis K. 
Daliakopoulos, Ioannis N. 
Claringbould, Heleen 
De Ruiter, Peter C. 
Major Field of Science: Natural Sciences
Field Category: Earth and Related Environmental Sciences
Keywords: Dryland ecosystems;Ecosystem restoration;Multidisciplinary;Resilience;Stakeholder engagement recommendations
Issue Date: 22-Oct-2020
Source: Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, 2020, vol. 8, articl. no. 561101
Volume: 8
Journal: Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution 
Abstract: One of the most challenging issues in Mediterranean ecosystems to date has been to understand the emergence of discontinuous changes or catastrophic shifts. In the era of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, which encompass ideas around Land Degradation Neutrality, advancing this understanding has become even more critical and urgent. The aim of this paper is to synthesize insights into the drivers, processes and management of catastrophic shifts to highlight ways forward for the management of Mediterranean ecosystems. We use a multidisciplinary approach that extends beyond the typical single site, single scale, single approach studies in the current literature. We link applied and theoretical ecology at multiple scales with analyses and modeling of human–environment–climate relations and stakeholder engagement in six field sites in Mediterranean ecosystems to address three key questions: How do major degradation drivers affect ecosystem functioning and services in Mediterranean ecosystems? What processes happen in the soil and vegetation during a catastrophic shift? How can management of vulnerable ecosystems be optimized using these findings? Drawing together the findings from the use of different approaches allows us to address the whole pipeline of changes from drivers through to action. We highlight ways to assess ecosystem vulnerability that can help to prevent ecosystem shifts to undesirable states; identify cost-effective management measures that align with the vision and plans of land users; and evaluate the timing of these measures to enable optimization of their application before thresholds are reached. Such a multidisciplinary approach enables improved identification of early warning signals for discontinuous changes informing more timely and cost-effective management, allowing anticipation of, adaptation to, or even prevention of, undesirable catastrophic ecosystem shifts.
ISSN: 2296-701X
DOI: 10.3389/fevo.2020.561101
Rights: © van den Elsen, Stringer, De Ita, Hessel, Kéfi, Schneider, Bautista, Mayor, Baudena, Rietkerk, Valdecantos, Vallejo, Geeson, Brandt, Fleskens, Hemerik, Panagos, Valente, Keizer, Schwilch, Jucker Riva, Sietz, Christoforou, Hadjimitsis, Papoutsa, Quaranta, Salvia, Tsanis, Daliakopoulos, Claringbould and de Ruiter. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY).
Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International
Type: Article
Affiliation : Wageningen University & Research 
University of Leeds 
University of York 
Univ Montpellier 
Institute for Social-Ecological Research, Biodiversity and People 
Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Center BiK-F 
University of Alicante 
Utrecht University 
Fundación de la Comunidad Valenciana Centro de Estudios Ambientales del Mediterráneo 
Unidad Mixta de Investigación Universidad de Alicante 
University of Barcelona 
Fondazione MEDES 
European Commission's Joint Research Centre 
University of Aveiro 
University of Bern 
Federal Office for the Environment 
Bern University of Applied Sciences 
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research 
Cyprus University of Technology 
ERATOSTHENES Centre of Excellence 
University of Basilicata 
Technical University of Crete 
Hellenic Mediterranean University 
University of Amsterdam 
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